Lilac Wine

It’s ten in the morning and I’m sitting cross-legged and barefoot at our garden table in the warm sun, wearing a skimpy summer dress. My husband has created an oasis in the middle of the city. There is a fountain gurgling methodically and bird song all around me. I can hear children playing in the school yard a few blocks away and, every hour, the church bells chime the time. I close my eyes and I could be in Italy or France. I hear no airplanes or traffic. I’m sitting under a tall birch tree in April and, although I’m allergic, I’m having no problems. Lilac bows its scent over my head and, although synthetic perfumes now make me wince, I find the lilac’s aroma intoxicating.

If I were healthy again, I would do it all different. I would take the time to notice every bud and leaf, I would revel in meditation and have friends over all the time. I would visit farmers’ markets and experiment with recipes, host dinner parties and enjoy scrumptious desserts. I would take long walks with my dogs and listen to more music. I would never, ever take one minute of health for granted.

Today, I can’t stop smiling. I am outside, my body doesn’t hurt and I’m feeling pretty good. I’m getting stronger, I’m not lonely and the fears of the future have been sizzled away by the sun. We will undoubtedly have to leave this home eventually and, perhaps that will even be a good thing for my health, but, until that day, I will be grateful for the beauty wrapped around me, my family’s health, and for how fortunate I am.

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AIP + Low-Histamine Recipes

Tangerine, tangerine,
living reflection from a dream…

That’s what I was singing this morning. Not just because Led Zeppelin is the best band to ever exist, but because I was unpeeling what was going to be the first citrus fruit to cross my lips in 5 months. Today was citrus challenge day!

I never cared about fruit before ~ in fact, I downright hated it (see this, this and this post) ~ until I went on a low-histamine and low-sugar diet and, suddenly, a grapefruit sounded like the forbidden sweet treat of my dreams. Then, a few days ago, I eliminated oats for breakfast and, faced with the option of nothing but meat and veg in the morning, I started craving fruit like never before. So, this morning I had a sweet, succulent tangerine and tonight I had orange, beet and red onion salsa. Yum! 

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This is a multi-faceted challenge. The Good Doc wanted me to add back in certain things that typically can contribute to fatigue and pain, citrus being one. However, citrus is not low-histamine, so, even if I don’t have a worsening of my usual symptoms, it could be filling up my histamine “bucket”, which could contribute to a flushing episode or angioedema now or in the days to come.

The rest of my dinner was lamb sliders on sweet potato “buns”. We used this Nom Nom Paleo recipe for the lamb (minus the pomegranate molasses). Damn, they were good!

Even though I haven’t written the second part of my Diet post and you’re not intimately acquainted with the hell that is my current food life, I want to post some recipes. So, as I mentioned in my last post, I am gearing up to try a month (or a lifetime) of an AIP (autoimmune paleo)+Low-Histamine diet. The only things I have left to eliminate for the AIP protocol are seeds, almonds and rice.

Here are some other AIP+Low-Histamine recipes that I have loved:

Radish, Mint and Cucumber Salad: This recipe is totally AIP, but, for low-histamine, remove the lemon juice, zest and ACV. I used olive oil, lemon juice and tahini for the dressing because I haven’t eliminated all seeds yet.

This Artichoke-Zucchini pasta recipe is my all-time favourite comfort sauce. I had it just like this over rice pasta (not AIP), then froze the rest and later had it over spiralized zucchini (spiralised courgette ;)) and grilled chicken breast. If you are strictly low-histamine, be careful of the thyme and the arugula.

This Chicken Bacon Alfredo was so good, I ate it until I couldn’t breathe. Strike 1. Then, the next night, I ate the leftovers and had that bad flushing episode I talked about in my last post. Strike 2. So, no more bacon for me. I’m back on the strict-ish low-histamine train. But, without the bacon, it is AIP+low-histamine and I bet it will still be delicious (watch the thyme, if you can’t tolerate it).

I wish I’d taken more photos!

“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

— Martin Luther King Jr.

My Very Easy and Healthy Smoothie and Granola Recipes!

I find it amusing and perplexing that bloggers love recipes and anything written about food. I could have 99 posts about ME/CFS that never get read, but the 100th post about my oat bar recipe will have 10 bloggers “liking” it. So, with that in mind, listen up foodie bloggers! (foggers? bloodies?) I -somebody with too little energy to shower most days- make a smoothie every day and granola every week. They’re easy and they cost such an exorbitant amount of money at the shops, that you should start making your own immediately!

Triple Berry Smoothie 1

[Edit: I have since started doing green juices and not eating so much fruit, but this is still delicious for a yummy treat.]

E.M.’s Basic Smoothie (dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free etc.)

Blend:

  • 1 banana
  • a few handfuls of frozen mixed berries
  • almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened, vanilla or original)

Now, here are the variations that make it interesting:

  • 1 banana (or pear, if bananas are too much sugar or too many carbs. Often I’ll put half the banana in my granola for breakfast and then use the other half in a smoothie for “elevensies”)
  • a few handfuls of frozen mixed berries (or fresh berries or mango or…)
  • almond milk (or coconut milk or soy milk or hemp milk or cow’s milk or yogurt or ice cream or frozen yogurt or…)
  • splash of orange juice (really kicks it up a notch)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of cinnamon and/or nutmeg
  • agave nectar or stevia to taste (but you don’t need it!)
  • 1 tbs flax seed meal (I always do this)
  • a few walnuts (I always do this, too. You wouldn’t believe how good walnuts are blended up in a smoothie)

Also, you can add water or ice to thicken or thin the smoothie without adding calories, but not affecting the taste too much.

Granola after roasting

Granola consists of oats, a far and something sweet. So, it can be as simple as oats, oil/fat and honey… and then you get to add any seeds, nuts or different flavours you like. I made up all these measurements, you less or more to your liking.

E.M.’s Healthy Granola (dairy-free, refined sugar-free, gluten-free)

  • 4 cups gluten-free rolled oats 
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (can be salted. If not, add 1/4-1/2 tsp salt to recipe)
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (any kind: I like pecans, cashews and almonds. If I didn’t put walnuts in my smoothies, I’d put them in my granola)
  • 1/2 cup coconut (can be sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 1/2-1 tbs cinnamon
  • 5 tbs fat of choice (butter, high-oliec sunflower or canola oil, heated up coconut oil… lately I’ve been using olive oil and the taste has not overwhelmed the finished product)
  • 5 tbs honey (or brown rice syrup or maple syrup or whatever liquid sweetener you like)
  • 2 tsps pure vanilla extract (I add much more because I love vanilla)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apples, cherries etc.)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Heat oil, honey and vanilla over low heat until it is runny but not boiling. Pour over dry ingredients, mix thoroughly and spread over 2 baking trays lined with foil or parchment. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden. When cooled, add dried fruit (otherwise they have a tendency to get a bit crispy and charred in the oven). I love mine in clumps, but I think you’d need more honey to get that effect. The NY Times recently said that if you leave a “donut hole” in the middle of the baking trays and don’t stir the granola while it’s baking, it’ll come out clumpier, however, it didn’t work for me.

Which brings me to the variations: obviously, you can have no seeds or no nuts or no coconut. You can have no vanilla or cinnamon or dried fruit. Tinker with the oil and honey. I only put 2 tbs honey and 2 tbs agave nectar in my last batch, knowing I could always add more to my bowl of granola when I’m eating it … but, I didn’t think it was quite sweet enough. This is not grocery store granola! This way you can make it healthier or not ~ whatever you like. You’re in charge. 🙂

Enjoy!